Monday, August 21, 2017


 This harvest crew on a Southside Virginia farm bales flue-cured leaf.

USDA has projected 14 percent more burley production and five per cent more flue-cured production in 2017 compared to last year based on its July grower survey. Even more impressive, the dark air-cured and fire-cured crops are projected to rise a whopping 59 and 40 percent over the weather-damaged 2016 crops for these types. Small increases were projected for the minor types Southern Maryland and Pennsylvania seedleaf. Following are the projected volumes by state and type including the percentage change since 2016.

  • North Carolina--352 million pounds, up six per cent. 
  • Virginia--47.25 million pounds, down two percent. 
  • Georgia--28.75 million pounds, up one percent. 
  • South Carolina-- 26.4, up six percent. 
  • All flue-cured--454.4 million pounds, up five percent from the 2016 crop.

  • Kentucky--120 million pounds, up 12 percent. 
  • Tennessee--23 million pounds, up 46 percent. 
  • Pennsylvania--11.7 million pounds, down six percent. 
  • Virginia--2.3 million pounds, down eight percent. 
  • North Carolina--1.89 million pounds, up five percent.
  • All burley--160 million pounds, up 14 percent.

  • Kentucky--32 million pounds, up 46 percent. 
  • Tennessee--22 million pounds, up 32 percent. 
  • Virginia--840,000 pounds, up 61 percent. 
  • All fire-cured--55.34 million pounds, up 40 percent.  

  • Kentucky--13.5 million pounds, up 75 percent. 
  • Tennessee--3.25 million pounds, up 38 percent. 
  • All dark air-cured --16.75 million pounds, up 59 percent.

  • Pennsylvania--4.5 million pounds, up eight percent.                    

  • Pennsylvania--4 million pounds, up four percent.

Auctions begin: Big M Tobacco Warehouse and Horizon Ltd. Warehouse, both in Wilson, N.C., and both selling by sealed bids, kicked off flue-cured auctions for the year with sales on August 16. Kenneth Kelly, owner of Horizon Ltd., said that theofferings at his house, all downstalk, were limited. But it appeared to him that as of now, very good quality is coming out of the east, and the weight is average to slightly above average. "It is certainly sellable," he says. "Prices might be a little better than last year, but we will need to sell more to be sure of that." The buyers were a similar group of dealers and small manufacturers as in years past, he adds. Old Belt Tobacco Sales, in Rural Hall, N.C., which conducts live auctions, will hold its first sale on August 22.

For more information, call Horizon at 252 292 8822; or Big M at 919 496 9033 (or at the switchboard at 252 206 1447), or Old Belt at 336 416 6262 (or at the switchboard at 336 969 6891. EDITOR'S NOTE: Any other flue-cured auctions are invited to email their operating information to chris for inclusion here. And watch for a list of burley auction warehouses in the near future.

Be sure to inspect burley barns well before housing, says Don Fowlkes, manager of agronomy for Burley Stabilization Corporation. "Tier poles should be structurally sound and safe," he says. "Make sure the ventilation doors work properly. Consider making ventilation doors or barns which don't have them, especially if the barn is located in a low area that doesn't get much air flow. And be sure that the roof doesn't leak."

Sunday, August 13, 2017


Looking to the sky: Farmer Brandon Batten demonstrated how he uses a
drone on his tobacco near Four Oaks, N.C., as part of the N.C. Tobacco Tour
on July 24. There is definitely a future for drones in tobacco production. says
N.C. Extension tobacco specialist Matthew Vann. "The first use might be as a harvesting
aid, to take some guess work out of deciding when to harvest," he says.

BURLEY--The Bluegrass of Kentucky and nearby areas began to get some moisture in
early August after a dry spell, says Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist.
"We still need more, but if we can get some timely rain, we should have good potential
for reasonably good yield for this crop." Farmers are well into topping, with some
at the beginning stages of cutting, he says. According to USDA, 48 percent of the
Kentucky tobacco (all types) and 69 percent of Tennessee tobacco (all types) had
 been topped by August 6.

DARK--The dark tobacco crop of Kentucky and Tennessee is one of the better in the
last 10 years, says Andy Bailey, Extension dark tobacco specialist. "It looks good
overall, much better now than a few weeks ago. A little of it is on the dry side
 where it hasn't gotten much rain in the last three weeks. A few are irrigating."
There was some fear about angular leaf spot on the dark types, but it hasn't been
too bad. "But you have to be on the watch for it because at this point there is 
only one treatment--streptomycin," says Bailey.

FLUE-CURED-- By the end of the first week of August, N. C. flue-cured growers had
been harvesting for four to five weeks, says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco
specialist. "We will be going hot and heavy from here on," he says. Initial curings
have been good. "We have produced some pretty good lower stalk tobacco so far. I
 commend growers for that, particularly as we consider what this crop has been through."
The tomato spotted wilt crisis is over, says Vann, and statewide it wasn't the disaster
it appeared to be. "It's a little early to predict how much we lost to it, but I
 wouldn't be surprised if it pushes five to 10 percent for the state, especially
 since some of the larger acreage counties were the hardest hit. There were a few
areas where losses exceeded double digits."

The blue mold scare in North Carolina this summer turned out just to be a scare.
 "We had only two farms where it was a problem, one in Caswell County and one in
 Madison County." Damage was minimal, he adds.

Georgia farmers are well into their second harvest. "Farmers will try to fulfill
their crop throw for cutters," says J. Michael Moore, Georgia Extension tobacco
specialist. "Once they have finished with that, we will see more last-over harvesting."

There has been an unusual disease problem in the Deep South, says Moore: frogeye
leafspot. "It can be very damaging if it causes several holes on a leaf. These yellow 
spots can run together and cover much of the leaf. This may lead to low quality
 tobacco coming out of the barn." Fortunately, Quadris can be used against it and
is well worth the cost. But when you see frogeye you need to jump on it, he says.
An accelerated harvest schedule--within reason--can also help.

Surprisingly, spotted wilt wasn't a big problem in Georgia: Damage was less than
in an average year, even though the mild winter weather had seemed to set the 
stage for a bad season.

Harvest report: According to NASS, 66 percent of the flue-cured in Ga., 40 percent
in S.C., 27 in N.C. and 22 percent in Virginia had been harvested by August 6.

Irrigation going great guns: Many farmers in all states are irrigating. "We are 
starting to get dry in most places, and some (burley) tobacco farmers are starting
to irrigate," says Ronnie Barron, county agent in Cheatham County north of Nashville.
Irrigation is going full swing in some areas of N.C. "Tobacco (flue-cured) is being
irrigated here due to lack of rainfall," says Paul McKenzie, Warren County (N.C.)
Extension agent." Many farmers have made the first pass on harvesting tobacco, he

IN PASSING: George Marks (left), a burley and dark tobacco
grower near Clarksville, Tn., died at the end of July. He was 
for many years the farmer president of the Burley
Stabilization Corporation and lead the cooperative through 
a period of rapid evolution. He will be remembered primarily 
for guiding the cooperative's move from its traditional
home in Knoxville, Tn., to Springfield, Tn., near Nashville. 
The move proved beneficial since it brought the cooperative 
nearer to the majority of its farmer-members after the 
buyout. He will be remembered by the editor of this 
publication for always giving a straight answer to a straight 

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